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Now to the business of defensive football against the tough Pittsburgh Steelers. The defense was much improved against the run. The young secondary took some strides in the right direction but still show they have a lot to learn in the NFL, but that's what preseason is for.
-Barry Cofield made his presence felt early and often before his injury. He was stout against the run and even got a sack and several pressures by man handling Pro Bowl Center Maurkice Pouncey.
-David Amerson looked impressive for a second game in a row by not being afraid to come up aggressively on the run and getting physical with the WRs.
-What can you say about Ryan Kerrigan other than .....BEAST with a sack, forced fumble, INT for a touchdown and wreaking havoc all over the Pittsburgh offensive line.
-Something else that stood out again was the strength of Brandon Jenkins. To be classified as a speed rusher he has shown strength to push opposing tackles and guards into the QB.
As a team, the defense improved their gap assignments against the run by staying home and not being over aggressive and over pursuing which leads to cutback runs, which the team got gashed on last week several times.
The secondary did look improved, but with unproven WRs for Pittsburgh and it being preseason I still want to see more consistency and corralling all these tipped passes and the ones that are hitting them in their hands. On another note, Bacarri Rambo has to get better at tackling. Once again he took bad angles coming up to the line to make a tackle and whiffed several times. This was one of the knocks on him coming out of college, but his ball hawking skills came into play by causing a fumble immediately following a play in which he missed another tackle. Good way to make up for a mistake, but he has to eliminate the mistakes in the first place.
Another problem was with penalties - three being of the 15 yard variety. Surprisingly, one of those was on London Fletcher for a late hit after one of the Pittsburgh players a little over aggressive after a play ended. I understand sticking up for a teammate, but the team can't have these penalties because they change field position, extend drives and can possibly cause ejections or possible suspensions. The other unnecessary roughness penalties was on Dejon Gomes and to add insult to injury he committed these fouls after giving up a 1st down and getting beat in coverage. It also didn't help in his case that he was out of position more than a few times and missed tackles for the 2nd week in a row. In my opinion, he is on the bubble right now fighting Jordan Pugh for the last spot at strong safety. After this game I think Pugh has the advantage.
Overall, the defense looked better and played better by getting pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, containing the running game and not giving up any big plays. I like what I saw from the linebackers and can’t wait to get Brian Orakpo back in the mix. Ryan Kerrigan is transforming into a defensive play maker which this team badly needs. Let’s get to the series by series breakdown.
1st Series: From the first snap the defense showed man press coverage, which I haven't seen the Redskins do in a while. They get solid coverage from the cornerbacks. I really like David Amerson's physical play and fearless nature on the field. Also London Fletcher had the first of three 15 yard unnecessary penalties which extended a drive. The run defense looked totally different with Barry Coefield at the NT.
2nd series: E.J Biggers filled the wrong gap and the Steelers ran for a 12 yard gain on 1st down. Once again Barry Cofield is causing problems for the offensive line and generates a sack by getting push right up the middle. The defensive play of the game came
during this series when Ryan Kerrigan recognized the play formation and heard London Fletcher yell "watch out for the screen". Timing his jump perfectly to bat, juggle and finally intercept the pass for a uncontested pick 6, Kerrigan gets the first defensive score and turnover of the preseason. 7-0
3rd Series: David Amerson played the run aggressively and well once again. Brandon Jenkins continues to get push on whatever offensive lineman he goes up against. Darryl Tapp stayed home and was there on the backside of the play to make a nice tackle for loss.
4th Series: Barry Cofield again manhandling the C-G A gap getting a lot of pressure up the middle whenever he wants it seems like. Dejon Gomes gets beat again and compounds it by getting a 15 yard penalty added to the gain on the play. David Amerson with a rookie mistake not getting deep enough in his zone when the team went into a Cover-2. Ryan Kerrigan got great pressure on Big Ben, but the fullback stayed with his block on the linebacker and he wasn't able to corral the quarterback and Ben made a nice throw for a first down. Pittsburgh was moving the ball well and were aided by senseless penalties. Bacarri Rambo has to get his angles and tackling together because he once again whiffed of a tackle but the gain was negated by a Pittsburgh penalty. Darryl Tapp showing his pass rushing skills draws a holding penalty and helps to stall the drive holding Pittsburgh to a field goal. 7-3
5th Series: Ryan Kerrigan is making a case for being the playmaker on the Redskins defense by taking a perfect angle, beating the tackle and getting to the quarterback for a strip and a fumble that Redskins recovered with good field position.
6th Series: Bacarri Rambo’s tackling is really bad right now but at least he made up for it on the next play by forcing a fumble. The defense with three turnovers in the first half can definitely use that during the regular season.
7th Series: An all-out blitz called versus the perfect counter, a screen pass. But a miscue by the Steeler’s running back leads to an incomplete pass but the play would've gashed the defense big time on that play. E.J Biggers gambled and tried for a pass deflection and came over the top and got called for pass interference. Now in this case I don't think Dejon Gomes deserved this penalty but it’s the new NFL and he got hit with an unnecessary roughness (defenseless receiver) infraction. The Pittsburgh offense started picking on Biggers once he gave too much cushion and it became an easy toss and catch. Then again, Biggers missed the jam at the line and the receiver got a clean release for another first down. Between a mixture of good pressure and solid coverage the Redskins hold the Steelers to a field goal again before half. 14-6
1st Series: Bryan Kehl coming untouched up the A gap for a huge hit and sack of the quarterback. Will Compton reads the screen pass and makes a nice tackle for a small gain. Brandon Jenkins once again with good pressure using his strength (I thought he was a speed guy but has impressive power with his bull rush) and forcing a bad throw.
2nd Series: Chase Minnifield is coming up aggressive on the run and puts a nice hit on the running back. Bryan Kehl with a bad missed tackle, but the run defense is strong and forces a punt.
3rd Series: Bryan Kehl lost in space and gave up a 12 yard gain on 3rd and 10. Brandon Jenkins is getting more pressure but still can't get that first sack quite yet but came very close. On a 4th and 1 play the Steelers went play action against the called blitz and Will Compton and Richard Crawford were in position to make a play but neither could stop the scoring play. 17-13
4th Series: The defense is playing well against the run and the pass. Gave up a critical 3rd and 8 but it was negated by another Pittsburgh penalty and forced to punt.
5th Series: Will Compton with good pursuit and tackle from the backside. Jerome Murphy gets hit in his hands with a sure interception but couldn't come up with it. Brandon Jenkins is a going to be a nightmare for opposing offensive lines. He’s getting constant pressure when he's in the game and almost caused and interception with his pressure.
6th Series: Chris Baker with good pressure from the DE spot. Richard Crawford with another near interception that looked like a possible pick six, but wasn't able to come up with it. Defense getting off the field on third downs (Steelers were a pitiful 1/13 on 3rd down conversions) and holding the lead. Great practice for regular season because last year it was like the defense couldn't get off the field late in the game.
7th Series: Jim Haslett called one of his beautiful overload blitzes and sent six to meet at the quarterback- and that they did for a 12 yard loss, forcing the Steelers to punt. This was the final series for the Redskins defense.